July 7, 2006 (by Jeff Hollenbeck) - After much speculation, many polls online, and more posts on F-16.net than nearly any other topic, the offical name for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter has finally been announced - "Lightning II."
U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley addresses an audience of dignitaries and industry officials at the unveiling of the F-35 at Lockheed Martin in Fort Worth, Texas. Moseley officially named the stealth jet Lightning II. [LMTAS photo]
Air Force chief of staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley offically announced the name for the F-35 earlier today at the aircraft's official unveiling at Lockheed Martin's Plant 1 in Ft. Worth, TX before government and defense officials from the U.S., JSF
partner countries, and the world's press.
In his speech, Gen. Moseley remarked, "Today, the enemies of peace and freedom have been put on notice. They have feared this day because the F-35 provides the coalition warfighter the perfect blend of speed, precision and stealth.
"In my travels, Airmen have given me some great suggestions that we'll see on new Air Force weapons systems in the near future," he said. "The name for the F-35, Lightning II, was a win for aviation heritage and culture."
The "Lightning II" name draws on the heritage of the Lockheed P-38 Lightning that fought in every theater of combat in WWII. The P-38 was the mount for several famous pilots and excelled as a fighter accounting for more aerial victories in the Pacific than any other type of aircraft as well as serving as a light bomber . Americas two top aces, Maj. Richard Bong (40 kills) and Maj. Thomas McGuire (38 kills) both flew the P-38. Lesser known for his combat flying than for his solo transatlantic flight, Charles Lindbergh also flew the P-38 into combat in the Pacific. Although he was officially a civilian observer, Lindbergh achieved several kills against Japanese pilots in the P-38 along with bombing several targets.
While the P-38 is the "Lightning" remembered by most, English Electric made another fighter which carried the Lightning name. The twin jet engine English Electric Lightning could reach speeds of over 1,500 miles per hour in afterburner. English Electric is now BAE
Systems which is a major partner in the F-35 project, supplying major components of the airframe and empennage.
The "Lightning II" name also draws on a well known destructive force of nature. AFPN notes that "Like lightning, the F-35 Lightning II
will strike with destructive force. The stealth characteristics of the jet will allow the F-35 to strike the enemy with accuracy and unpredictability; when the enemy finally hears the thunder, the F-35 is long gone."
With its Pratt and Whitney F135 engine producing over 40,000 pounds of thrust, the F-35 is the most powerful single engine fighter ever produced. With ground vibration and fuel system testing completed early, the F-35 Lightning II is scheduled to make its first flight in late October and is well on its way to final production.
Orders for over 2,500 F-35s have been placed by the U.S. Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and nations around the world.